Food Safety 101

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A new study says conditions in our public school cafeterias could trigger potentially disastrous outbreaks of food poisoning at any time. Some school districts are falling behind in meeting food safety standards. Find out more about how to keep your food safe.

How Can I Eliminate Harmful Bacteria From Produce?

Vigorously washing produce under cold running water - minus the soap - is the best way to reduce or eliminate bacteria. Soaking produce in warm water won't help. And washing it in very hot water isn't any more effective because it's impossible to get the temperature high enough to kill harmful organisms and still be able to put your hands in the water.

Which Fruit Is Most Likely To Harbor Organisms That Cause Food-Borne Illness?

Because of the little ridges in the skin, cantaloupe is the most likely candidate of the three to cause food-borne illness. Thoroughly wash and dry cantaloupe before slicing it up to prevent the transfer of bacteria from the skin to the fruit.

How Should I Cook Casseroles And Egg Dishes?

For egg and casserole dishes, check the temperature with a meat thermometer and make sure it reaches 160 degrees. Leftover casseroles should be heated to 165 degrees; leftover soups, gravies and other liquids should be brought to a full rolling boil before serving the second time around.

What Is The Safest Temperature Setting For Your Fridge?

Food-borne pathogens thrive and grow the most rapidly between 40 and 140 degrees. So make sure your refrigerator is set at or below 40 degrees. Keep a refrigerator thermometer in the fridge and check it often. Your freezer should be below 0 degrees. Here, too, it pays to invest in a thermometer.

Which Foods Are Most Likely To Cause Listeriosis?

Listeriosis has been found in cold cuts and lunch meats, as well as hot dogs, patés and imported non-pasteurized cheese spreads. Listeria tends to attack pregnant women, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. It's a good idea, therefore, to reheat lunch meats to 160 degrees, then chill in a clean container before eating. Be sure to cook hot dogs thoroughly to kill any bacteria.

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